It will take Republicans a while to deal with the internal commotion that is Donald Trump. His nomination as the GOP candidate in November’s presidential elections is nearly unstoppable now that he has wiped his rivals off the map. And those battles have left deep wounds. Though many party leaders do not trust him, Trump holds their future in his hands and his choice of vice president, someone who will balance his unconventional style, may determine how well the party fares in November.
After failing to stop the reality TV star from running in the primary race a year ago, even though few people took his bid for the nomination seriously, Republicans no longer hide their unease with the man who will likely be their nominee in six months. Over the last few days, top party leaders have publicly expressed their opinions of this populist, anti-immigration advocate who has polarized the American people and shaken up the foundations of the Republican Party.
The last two GOP presidents, George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, have publicly declined to endorse Trump. Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the most important federal office in Republican hands, has also refused to back him. And several GOP leaders of Hispanic descent have shown their utter discomfort with the presumptive nominee.
Still, the internal combustion caused by the party’s gradual acceptance of the primary results does not frighten the real estate mogul. As his nomination became more and more inevitable, Trump softened his attacks against the Republican establishment. “I think conservatives want to know, does he share our values and our principles...There are a lot of questions that conservatives, I think, are going to want answers to,” Ryan said.
To show up at the presidential elections with a divided party and face someone with Hillary Clinton’s experience could mean political suicide for the Republicans. In an attempt to smooth things over and unite the party, Ryan has invited Trump to a meeting with party leaders this week.
Meanwhile, Trump is aware that his choice of vice president could be an opportunity to reconcile with many Americans, especially with his own party. The New York businessman has floated the name of his former primary rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, a well-liked moderate conservative who was his last opponent in the primary race.
Throwing punches left and right
Donald Trump has thrown punches left, right and center and he has crippled the Republican Party. His xenophobic remarks against Mexicans and Muslims put him on the far end of a right wing that is already tough on immigration. His comments have led to widespread indignation within the Hispanic community of 50 million and polls say most of them do not intend to vote for him. As Republicans know from past experience, losing this decisive Latino vote can mean losing the election.
Trump has also sprinted to the far-left side of the political spectrum. His protectionist measures clash with the Republican ideal of the free market. He has also proposed raising taxes on the wealthy and increasing the hourly minimum wage.
But Trump has also insulted many groups over the last year, including Hispanics and women, two demographics whose votes will prove decisive come November. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator of Cuban descent who was a Republican favorite early in the race, put an end to speculations that he might be Trump’s running mate. “I'm not looking for it, I'm not asking for it, and it's not going to happen.”
New Mexico Governor Susana Martínez and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a bright star within the party, are two other possible choices. Rumors that Governor Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, could be the right GOP choice started in January when she delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Haley supported Marco Rubio during the primary contest and she has openly criticized Donald Trump.
English version by Dyane Jean François.